Penny Sampson, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, was on the hot seat at a recent board meeting, defending her call to police about two juveniles Saturday, Sept. 26, and her subsequent posting on Facebook.

While the mother of one of the boys, Heather Abruzzese, identified her 14-year-old son as "Ari" for the record, no one spoke on the behalf of the other boy.

Ari's grandmother said at the Sept. 29 selectmen’s meeting that Sampson’s post on Facebook was tantamount to a “be on the lookout” police alert, garnering many comments from townspeople.

“He did a dumb thing by cutting through the yards,” she said, “like a million other people do.”

The post appeared on "Unity, Maine Citizens United," a Facebook group which Sampson started in 2016 to post community news and happenings. The post in question has since been deleted, and Oct. 1 Sampson changed the name of the group to CommUnity Opportunity.

The grandmother said Sampson described the boys in her post as, “The skinny white kid and the heavy-set Black kid."

"Really?" she asked Sampson. "This is not the time to be talking like that.”

Sampson said in hindsight, she should not have made the post. “I should have left it when I called the police,” she said. “I would not have called the police if they had not been messing around with the heat pump.” The boys, she felt, were also disrespectful in an exchange of words that took place.

Saturday afternoon was the first time, Sampson said, she had ever seen the two boys, after living in Unity all her life.

“Am I sorry I posted it on Facebook? Yes. Am I sorry anybody was offended? Yes,” she said. “Am I a racist? No,” and offered to meet with Ari and his mother.

Waldo County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it had received a call for service at the Unity Town Office around 4:30 p.m. Saturday and a deputy spoke with the two juveniles regarding the call, but found nothing criminal related to this incident.

Armed with letters from teachers supporting her son's character, Abruzzese said because of the disparaging comments and the way the post was worded, townspeople now think her son is a troublemaker. “Some good has to come out of this,” she said.

One resident expressed concern the post might be misconstrued as coming from the Town Office since Sampson is the administrator of the Facebook page. The fact that public notices are posted and feedback is solicited from taxpayers blurs the line between a private and a municipal forum, she said.

To this claim, Sampson said the Facebook page clearly notes in the description that it is not an official town of Unity page.

The resident added she felt “retaliated against and silenced” when she, along with Ari's mother and grandmother, was banned from the post when they wrote comments that went against Sampson.

Sampson did not deny banning them, but said she did so after comments were directed specifically at her, and added she also received threatening emails and private messages.

Sampson said she has been a resident of the town for almost 54 years and has a right to her opinion, regardless of the fact that she is a selectman.

“I will not be squashed by other citizens of the town,” she said, “just because I am a town official.

“I am a citizen first and a town official second,” she said. “I hope to hell my one transgression, that I’ve apologized for, … doesn’t get held against me and wipe away everything else I’ve done for the town.”